An admixture of the good, bad and ugly: that is what Year 2020 was all about. ‘NIYI OLASINDE documents in a mixed grill the events of that past year.
YEARS roll in and out as a matter of natural order. Since the existence of time, events define times and times are reckoned through events. It is also a statement of truth that we define, tag, stigmatise and place on record particular years with the events that played out during those time spaces. For instance, the World War I branded and labelled years 1914 to 1918 permanently. Year 1920 remains labelled with the great plague. Depression set toga for years within the range of early 1930s, while 1939 to 1945 got archetyped with the events of World War II. We have other symbolic events which have set precedence for naming years and have given them their rites of passage in history. Some notable occurrences, depending on their importance to the individual, organization, institution or nation involved are, year or date of birth/establishment/political independence, wedding anniversary and other strategic events.
Nigeria has some dates and years that are either of positive or negative significance in her checkered history. While we have years like 1862 (year of arrival of first white missionaries), 1894 (year of establishing the first financial institution), 1900 (year when the Union Jack was first hoisted and Nigeria became British protectorate, full-fledged), 1914 (year of amalgamation of Nigeria’s Northern and Southern protectorates into one national entity), 1921, 1945, 1954 1957, 1960 were years of great constitutional milestones. 1960 doubled as watershed in Nigeria’s history, and as the year of its political independence. The crowning to that was 1963, when the nation assumed its republican status. 1966, 1975, 1976, 1983, 1985, 1986, 1990 were years of military coups (successful, phantom or foiled). There are years in the nation’s history that are remembered on a dampening note. An instance are years 1966 to 1970, which were years during which the Nigerian Revolution and the Biafran/Civil War. 1967 was once described by Daily Times as “Nigeria’s Most Agonising Year”. We can go on and on.
Year 2020, the just-concluded year, stands tall in history as odd-out year globally in many respects. The world has not witnessed such a year in a long while. In 2020, there were calamitous events which held people spellbound and brought systems to their knees. These sad disasters ran economies aground, as they rolled in, in horrendous turns. Nigeria and the State of Osun were not spared. And as is visible all around us, especially with the realities brought to the fore by the second wave of the ravaging COVID-19 pandemic, the sad events of 2020 have neither subsided nor lost their harsh grips.
The Year 2020 opened with the sad news of reported attack by suspected hoodlums on the Governor of the State of Osun, Mr. Adegboyega Oyetola at the annual crossover event, organised by the State Government to herald in every New Year. This had been the traditions since the Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola years in office and it had remained a joyous delight and a thunderous rallying point for residents to get properly acquainted with wonders the New Year would bring.
In January same year, the State of Osun came alive, when on the spur of the Federal Ministry of Interior, the first-ever Ministerial Retreat for its service chiefs, staff and other stakeholders, designed to upscale service delivery, effectiveness and efficiency, was hosted in the ancient city of Ilesa. Aside being the ministry’s affair, this was an event that brought all shades of dignitaries in the state together and brightened potentials of bringing positive goodies to the State.
After a long and contentious debate, the bill for the establishment of the South-West Security Network, codenamed Amotekun saw the light of day. With its signing into law, the coast became clear for residents of the geopolitical zone to know some respite, security-wise.
Then dawned the reality of the COVID-19 pandemic for the first time since its index cases hit the stage in Wuhan, China in late 2019. The discovery of the index case here in Nigeria brought about government intervention in imposing lockdowns first in Laos and Ogun states and in the Federal Capital Territory. Attendant stiffer measures were not slow in coming, and they spread like wildfire: land border closure, halt in international travels, closure of interstate boundaries, closure of schools and clampdown on places of public gathering like worship centres, hotels and others. Then came the issue of social relief package, known as palliative and the dust raised was of immense magnitude. The State of Osun particularly was in the midst of the storm, as there was massive discontent over the quality, quantity and spread of the palliative, vis-à-vis the adequacy of that gesture from government in cushioning the hardship the pandemic brought about. This till date brings to debatable test government’s altruism and capability to measure up to its social welfare commitment, not only in the State of Osun but also across the states of the federation and even up to the government at the centre.
2020 was a year of multiple disasters in the Agriculture and Food Security sector. Acute shortage in rainfall marred agricultural activities and halted food production. On top of it all, vices like banditry, kidnap and abduction, killings and others were rife. The lockdown occasioned by the pandemic also brought a surge to incidents of rape and other acts of sexual perversion.
Following the sad events of the COVID-19 pandemic closely on its heels was the nationwide #EndSARS widespread protests. There had been uproars and outcry over time, over the necessity of pruning the wings of the Special Anti-Robbery Squad at both state and federal levels and the Joint Task Force and all their semblances, owing to the reign of terror the various outfits unleashed on the citizenry and their obvious highhandedness. Early last year, it was reported how a group of security men who drove in an unmarked vehicle hit and killed a man in Osogbo during the 2019 end-of-year Yuletide. A similar case resonated in September 2020 along Oba Adesoji Aderemi Bypass at the outskirts of the state capital, where another group of security men, suspected to be men of the dreaded JTF pursued a group of youngsters they suspected to be fraudsters to the point of carnage. One of the trio in the ill-fated car was not lucky as he died on the spot. These are tips of the iceberg in cases that triggered nationwide uprising for the scrapping of SARS. And it was granted.
But further agitations followed the scrapping of SARS and its immediate replacement with another outfit. The protests raged on intensified till it degenerated and got hijacked by irate hoodlums. The sordid end is better imagined: massive looting, carnage and wanton destruction of private, corporate and government properties, infrastructure and utilities. It was so terrible! The #EndSARS protests and their aftermath brought to fore the decadence and rot the nation had witnessed over the decades and the urgent need for a rebirth, all-round.
It was also during the #EndSARS protests in the State of Osun that another attempt was made on the life of the State Governor, Mr. GboyegaOyetola. For whatever reasons, this remains reprehensible and condemnable.
In the area of Education/Social Service and Civil Service sector, three significant events came up and saw the light of day within the year under review: the Federal College of Education allotted to the State of Osun eventually scaled through and was located in Iwo; the long-drawn squabbles over the dissolution of joint ownership of the Ladoke Akintola University of Technology, Ogbomoso and its medical/Hospital wing in Osogbo eventually got consummated; and the new national minimum wage was eventually approved and got effected for the State of Osun.
The State of Osun also recorded feats which were copious spillover of Aregbesola Years in office.During the course of the year under review, two feats recorded kept immediate past administration in the state in reverberating glow. The State of Osun was named as one of the beneficiaries of a monetary grant, which accrued to some states of the federation on the basis of performance-based component of the World Bank-Assisted State Fiscal Transparency, Accountability and Sustainability (SFTAS) Programme-for-Results. By this token, the state, alongside 23 other states got its share of the 120.6 million dollars (N43, 416,000,000) which it co-shared with co-benefitting states on the basis of performances in their economies in yesteryears.
In similar vein, the state got ranked within the same year as the state with the third lowest poverty index in the entire nation. This ranking, the Nigerian Poverty Index report for 2019, as conducted and released by the National Bureau of Statistics translates to the fact that Osun is the third richest state in Nigeria; coasting third after Lagos and Delta states!
In the area of development, these events crept in: Siting and construction of the Nigeria Correctional Service State Headquarters in Osogbo; Siting of world-class Ethanol Factory in Egbeda, Boripe Local Government axis of the state; the Dagbolu International Market, a pet-project of the immediate past administration was re-enlivened; and Governor Adegboyega Oyetola won the Best Governor of the Year Award, courtesy of the BusinessDay newspaper.
Upon his eventual homecoming in December, on the spur of concluding the Presidential Town Hall meeting initiative, former Governor Aregbesola, who is Minister of Interior was bestowed with the first-ever prestigious Episcopal Ecumenical Award of the Church of Nigeria, Anglican Communion, conferred by the Ijesa North Diocese of the church.
Other impressive events include: the royal arrival of a bouncing baby boy to the reigning quintessential monarch, the Arole O’odua, Ooni of Ife, His Imperial Majesty, Oba Adeyeye Enitan Ogunwusi, Ojaja II. The heir to the throne, in fulfilment of earlier vow by the king, got named after the iconic Ooni, who reigned between 1930 and 1980, Oba Adesoji Tadeniawo Aderemi, Atobatele I.
Far from blowing our own trumpets, two members of the Moremi Publishing House, publishers of the OSUN DEFENDER titles, Ismaeel Uthman (Deputy Editor) and Solomon Odeniyi (Senior Reporter) clinched the Best Investigative Reporter of the year and Best Reporter of the year respectively. These awards came from the State of Osun Council of Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ). We cherish the harvest of laurels as we look forward to soaring to higher grounds during this and future years.
On the royal/ traditional terrain, there was a recorded lot of rumbles around the Oluwo of Iwo, who was alleged of some criminal acts and the cases are still subjects of litigation in courts of competent jurisdiction. We also had the uprising in Igbaye, Odo-Otin Local Government of the state against the monarch of about 15 years standing, Oba Joseph Morouhunfoye Okunlola-Oni, Ijiolu IV, who having been earlier affirmed fit claimant to the throne by a higher court sitting in Ikirun, had also reportedly been reconciled to his people and other ruling houses in the town. A similar uprising was recorded in Ikire, seat of Irewole Local Government of the State against the over 30 years of Oba Olatunde Falabi, Lambeloye III.
We look forward to a better year for our traditional institutions as the core of our cultural values.
Sad still are cases connected with the state-owned football club, the Osun Babes, which still remain an unsolved impasse. Others are the scourges of baby factories, ritual killings, yahoo and yahoo plus. We hope these snares will soon be completely thrown overboard, so that the state and her people could be restored fully back to their famous statuses of sanctity and rectitude. We also put on record sad cases of illegal mining in parts of Osun and continuous indiscriminate infiltration in Northern invaders into the state. It is hoped that all security outfits we gird their loins and beef up security this year to contain these unwarranted incursions and exploitation/depletion of our resources.
On a sad and final note, we lost a bunch of people, including notable prominent and illustrious sons and daughters and notable politicians to the cold hand of death. Lately, we lost Professors Femi Odekunle, Oyewusi Ibidapo-Obe, Duro Ajeyalemi. More recently too, an ace politician and former senator from the progressives’ household, Alhaji Adebayo Salami lost the battle of life in an American hospital. Also, as build-up to Christmas, a revered monarch in the state, Owa of Igbajo, Oba Adeniyi Olufemi Fasade, Akeran IV joined his ancestors after a glorious reign spanning about 30 years. Also, we lost Deputy Chief of Staff to the Governor (Administration), Barr Jare Adebisi, Chairman of Olorunda North Local Government, Hon Kadiri Owonikoko and member of the Osogbo West Local Council Development Area, Hon Dauda Alli to the cold hand of death.
We conclude by praying for a wonderful, peaceful, disease-free and a prosperous 2021.